Advanced Math Pathways
Advanced Math Pathways Program Overview
The goal of this program is to provide access to educational pathways leading to STEM
careers. In the Advanced Math Pathways program, 4th through 8th graders will
accelerate their math learning so that they can get a start on required high school
math credits by the end of 8th grade. Students who lack access to an advanced math
pathway from 4th through 8th grade are at a significant disadvantage when attempting
to enter STEM careers. Civil Rights icon Bob Moses, founder of the Algebra Project,
crusaded for many decades to provide access to Algebra 1 by the end of 8th grade as a
fundamental right for all students. As he said, ``math literacy is the key to 21st
century citizenship''. Our region stands to benefit both socially and economically by
providing more local students with such an educational opportunity.
- Raising Accustomed Work Level. Students are required to complete a baseline
level of work every week, and are challenged to complete two or three times this
amount of work. Students are coached to be individually responsible for completing
assignments and logging their progress each week, and they do most work in small
groups or independently. Every week includes problem solving with a solution
writing requirement, skill practice work, quiz preparation, and an enrichment
experience involving art, programming, or measurement.
- Learning for Mastery. Students are required to pass a sequence of 20 quizzes
for each grade level to show mastery of key math concepts, usually attempting to
pass several quizzes per week on quiz day. Students retake versions of these
quizzes until they pass with a score of at least 85\%. Quizzes go well beyond
operation fluency, requiring students to demonstrate conceptual understanding and
number sense by drawing models and explaining different methods for
- STEM Enrichment. Students participate in STEM enrichment opportunities each
week. These activities are designed to expose students to STEM careers, and to
allow them to develop skill sets important for these careers.
- Recruitment. Students are recruited early in the year (or at the end of the
previous school year, if possible) by participating in hands-on activities typical
of those included in the program. Students are nominated by the school based on
scores or teacher recommendations. Eligible students are invited to apply after
learning more about the program. Interested students complete an application form
including a letter explaining why they are interested, and obtain parental consent
- Behavioral Expectations. Students in the Advanced Math Pathways
program must maintain the baseline level of work, work productively on an
independent basis, and refrain from behaviors that are disruptive to
other students during instruction or independent work times. Students who
cannot meet these expectations will be warned and then will be asked to
leave if the behavior continues.
- Entry of New Students. Students may join the Advanced Math Pathways program at
a later date on the basis of teacher recommendations if there is sufficient space.
- Instruction. Students accepted into the program participate in a 60 to 90
minute class every day, either as part of their math block or during a separate
STEM enrichment time.
- Enrichment Opportunities. Riverbend Community Math Center invites
students to participate in free extra-curricular STEM enrichment programs
that meet outside of school during the academic year and during the summer.
- Program Implementation. There are several models for how this program could be
- An instructor from our organization could lead all classes during the
school day, possibly with support from a co-teacher from the school. In this
case, our instructor would be responsible for all grading.
- An instructor from our organization could lead two classes per week during
the school day to facilitate more challenging STEM activities or math units.
The teacher of record would then lead the class on days focusing on small group
problem solving, on skill practice, or on quiz taking. Grading could either be
the responsibility of the teacher of record, or our instructor, or could be
shared between them. This would likely require a weekly meeting to plan and
- A teacher from the school could be in charge of all instruction in the
program during the school day. Our organization would provide professional
development the summer before, and occasional visits featuring special
activities. We would also provide access to summer camps and other
out-of-school opportunities for the students.
- Students from many sites could all be bused to a single location after
school to participate in a program led by our instructors. This would be less
ideal for the students, but could provide a solution in cases where students
cannot otherwise be kept together as they transition to middle school, for
example. However, this approach would likely result in a decrease in the number
of students able to participate.